How to Remove Wisteria
These recommendations are primarily for homeowners and communities that would like to start working in their neighborhood greenspace. For each species we recommend herbicide-free control methods, but have added an herbicide option for some species for those who are comfortable using them. These methods were selected while keeping in mind limiting soil disturbance, reducing herbicide use, and avoiding harm to other species that may be present whether they be other plants/animals. Manual removal is possible for all of them if you have the time. If the infestation is overwhelmingly severe or these tips aren’t proving effective, we suggest you consider qualified professional services.
Chinese Wisteria & Japanese Wisteria
Wisteria sinensis – Georgia EPPC Category 1 (serious problem in Georgia)
Wisteria floribunda – Georgia EPPC Category 4 (naturalized in Georgia or in need of further information)
Wisteria is very difficult to control. If the infestation is of high density, look into professional control.
A curtain of climbing wisteria.
Wisteria growing in the ground layer.
Cut and Treat
Wisteria climbs mature trees to reach sunlight and wraps around tree trunks like a constrictor. As the tree grows outward, these vines girdle the tree. To stop this, sever vines at the base of trees. Do not attempt to pull vines down that are above your reach. Cutting at the base will kill the vine above the cut, and they will eventually dry up and fall off.
Use hand pruners or a hand saw to cut vine at chest height.
Follow vines down to the ground, use a handsaw to cut at the base, and treat with herbicide. We use a high concentrate (between 20-50%), glyphosate based solution and add in an indicator dye to keep track of what has been treated. Be sure not to spray the herbicide anywhere but on the woody stem. Treat within 5-10 minutes, otherwise the wound will dry and the herbicide will not be absorbed. Only treat stems that are of 0.5” in diameter or larger.
Pull back vine to make a clean cut.
Cut stem as close to the ground as possible.
Apply herbicide directly to stem within 5-10 minutes after cutting.
How to Identify Invasive versus Native Wisteria
If you see wisteria blooming in early Spring, they are likely invasive. species. Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) bloom in April/May, and may bloom even earlier as Spring is arriving sooner due to climate change. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) is a native species and blooms in June/July.
Here are some tips for telling them apart:
- Pods of the Asian Wisterias have velvety surfaces due to a thick covering of short hairs. The American Wisteria pods are smooth and hairless.
- Flowers on Asian varieties all bloom at once, while the native flowers bloom at the base and progress downward on the flower stem.
- The Japanese and Chinese wisteria have pointed leaf tip, the American wisteria has a more blunted tip.
- Both the Chinese and American species twine counterclockwise. Japanese Wisteria twines clockwise.
“Category” refers to description of invasiveness based on information from the Georgia and North Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC) and do not necessarily reflect the severity of invasions in Atlanta specifically. View our Resource “Atlanta’s Top Invasive Plants (A to Z) Expanded List” for more information.
A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects or consider enrolling in our annual Forest Stewardship training program. For other species removal, also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.
If you have any questions about this guide please email firstname.lastname@example.org.